Sunday, May 6, 2012

Alpine Marmot

Marmota marmota
It's been a while since we last talked about a Marmot- those big old Ground Squirrels that tend to produce some hilarious photographs. Today's Marmot is the largest of the clan, which also makes it the largest of all the world's Squirrels as well!

Alpine Marmots are found (where else?) in the European Alps. Though I should also note that they have been introduced to the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, the Tatras, and a few other areas as well. Grassy, high-altitude plains are their preferred habitats, as they allow them to build the complex burrows systems that they live in, and to feed on the grasses and flowers that they prefer.

Marmot families are pretty close knit, are are comprised of a breeding pair and their offspring from previous years. They can number as few as 3-5 individuals, or as large as 50! There is some interbreeding within these colonies, but it is minimal as these colonies are typically female dominant, so the males only remain in a colony for a year or two (Alpine marmots can live as long as 14 years!)
Alpine Marmot

The Marmot colonies spend their active months foraging for food and preparing for their winter hibernation. They use a variety of calls and whistlers to warm one another against danger during these foraging sessions.

Did you know that these guys hibernate for half of the year? When winter comes they head into their burrow system, and the last one in plugs up the hole with grasses and dirt to keep out the cold. Infant mortality is pretty high in Marmots, so snuggling with the youngsters and keeping them warm greatly increases their chances of living another year.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe
Size : Body Length up to 21in (54cm), Weight up to 17lbs (8kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Sciuridae -- Genus : Marmota -- Species : M. marmota

1 comment:

  1. The Marmot and his so typical pose of standing on his back legs is something that I love seeing captured so much, I even do not know why, but I am loving your blog dedicated to all of these lovely and adorable animals:)


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